Team Sky (or Sky Procycling as they were until the start of this season) have undoubtedly changed the way that cycling is perceived in this country. Although they were set up from the start as an internationally rostered team – albeit with a very clear aim of initially achieving success in the Tour de France for a British rider – they were often described as a de facto British national road team. The overlapping managerial & coaching staff from the national track squad adds fuel to this conflation, especially for the legions of new cycling fans that the team’s success has turned onto the sport. It was also inevitable that many of the existing and upcoming British riders would find a home at Sky where the people, program and language were most familiar. But what of those British riders who choose not to ‘Take to the Sky’ with Brailsford and Co? Are they getting a fair share of cycle fan’s support when faced with the media-attention black hole that the Tour-winning team creates wherever it goes?
Lotto Bellisol’s Adam Hansen has just completed his seventh straight Grand Tour. Since late 2011 he has ridden the Giro and the Tour twice each and La Vuelta three times – all without a break. He has covered almost 24,000 Grand Tour kilometres in those 2 years and raced an incredible total of 16,059km over 106 days last year alone. In an era of ever increased targeting of races Hansen is a throwback to the classic years of cycling when even the top contenders rode vast seasons covering all events. In a sport renowned as being one of the toughest on the planet, his insatiable appetite for racing the biggest tests over and over again is earning him numerous fans and a reputation of being the hardest of the hard? The Jersey Pocket looked into what makes Hansen tick and found enough surprises to warrant him a place in ‘The Mavericks’.
Hansen has often been marked out as being a bit different. The fact that 32 year old Australian chooses to live in the Czech Republic rather than in one of the usual pro peloton hangouts like Girona or Nice is often used to highlight a non-conformist nature. Never shy in terms of doing things his way Hansen’s unique personality has been enlivening the peloton since 2007. Following spells at T-Mobile, HTC and Omega Pharma Lotto, ‘Croc-man’ (as he is known to his team mates) joined Lotto-Bellisol for the 2012 season, just after embarking on his Grand Tour Odyssey. He seems to be very settled with the Belgian squad and this contentment is showing in both the relaxed nature of his interviews and the increasingly successful nature of his racing. Whilst his commitment and focus at the sharp end of a race should not be questioned that doesn’t stop Hansen from occaisionally reminding us that he enjoys his job too.